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What Is Depression?

Logan has not been feeling the same for the past two months. He has lost his interest  in and excitement for things that used to be fun. Sports, friends, and school have all stated to feel like chores that he's just going through the motions of. It's been getting worse. He feels deeply sad, empty, and drained of energy for weeks on end.

Depression is one of the most common problem that interferes with the education, relationships, and careers of young people. It often affects people at a time when they make important decisions about their life - in their teens or early twenties. Prompt, effective treatment at this stage can be critical for improving quality of life and setting young people up to be socially, academically and professionally successful.

It’s important to know that depression can be experienced as more than just a feeling of sadness. Many symptoms of depression are feelings that everyone encounters from time to time. However, when these thoughts, feelings and behaviours occur at the same time for longer periods, they can have a huge impact on a person’s life and well-being. Accessing the right treatments early on can drastically improve the quality of life for people experiencing depression.



For a young person experiencing depression, getting effective treatment is not straightforward. There are numerous medications and talking therapies available, but no single treatment works for everyone. If that first treatment is effective, it's possible to quickly return to feeling like yourself again, and catch up on what you've missed. But ineffective treatment can lead to frustration and hopelessness.

TIDE aims to find out which treatment works for whom. Who needs antidepressant medication, and who does well with psychological treatment alone? TIDE is the first project to attempt to determine which factors can help predict the success of different initial treatment plans for young people who are experiencing depression for the first time.

Information Gathering

Getting The Information That Matters

Sitting through long assessments is not anyone's favourite pastime, and might be even harder for a person experiencing depression. We values your time, and we want to use it well. The TIDE team will collect important information about your health, brain activity, speech behaviour, sleeping habits and personal experiences:


  • We use electroencephalography (EEG) to record natural brain activity while the participant is resting or speaking.


  • We'll record a short speech sample during the EEG to examine how depression affects how people talk.


  • ​We'll do a blood test to check your overall health, and confirm safety of potential treatment. Your blood sample will also allow us to look for biological markers that may be specific to people with depression.


  • Changes in sleep and activity are an important part of depression. You'll be asked to wear an actigraph (a wristwatch-like device that records movement and sleep) for two weeks at the start and at the end of your treatment.

  • Over the course of your treatment, you'll be asked about your personal experiences, and to fill in questionnaires to get a sense of how you're doing.

Everything that you share with us will be completely confidential. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns about how we protect your privacy.



Every TIDE participant will be offered active treatment. We are using the psychological treatments and antidepressant medication that are supported by strongest evidence for benefits and safety in young people. Because we want to establish who benefits from these two types of treatment individually, you will first be assigned to receive either cognitive behavioural therapy, or antidepressant medication.

Who Can Participate?

People 12 to 24 years of age who are experiencing depression for the first time within the past year and have not yet tried treatment can participate in TIDE. They can self-refer or discuss a referral with their doctor. If you are older than 24 (25 and above) of if this is not the first time you are experiencing depression, you may be still eligible for another project.

The TIDE protocol has been reviewed and approved by the Nova Scotia Health Research Ethics Board and by Health Canada. All potential participants will be given detailed information before providing a consent to participate.

If you are interested in learning more about this study, or think you might be eligible, please contact the TIDE team.


What's Next? 

If you are eligible to participate, the first thing we will do is a baseline assessment, where we will do an interview and take some biometric data


At this point, you will be randomized into the study. This means that you will be assigned either to the psychological treatment group, or the antidepressant medication group. You have a 50/50 change of being assigned to one or the other; study personal have no input into which group you will be assigned to. 

For both groups, initial treatment will last 16 weeks. Depending on how you're doing, further treatment can be pursued. We will continue to follow-up with you in the future. 

Throughout your treatment, the study team will be checking in on you. 

What's Next
Additional Resources
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